A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow. The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus resolves on its own.
Along with the sore throat, you can have symptoms like:
- nasal congestion
- runny nose
- swollen glands in the neck
- hoarse voice
- body aches
- trouble swallowing
- appetite loss
It may hurt more when you swallow or talk. Your throat or tonsils might also look red.
Viral illnesses that cause a sore throat include:
- Common cold
- Flu (influenza)
- Mononucleosis (mono)
- Croup — a common childhood illness characterized by a harsh, barking cough
- A number of bacterial infections can cause a sore throat. The most common is Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A streptococcus, which causes strep throat.
Other causes include:
- Muscle strains
- Gastroesophageal Reflex Disease (GERD)
- HIV Infections